• Ulrich Ruckriem

    Sperone Westwater Fischer Gallery

    Ulrich Ruckriem is a German sculptor who has also worked as a stonecutter at the Cologne Cathedral. Recently he showed nine works, mostly slabs and blocks of quarried bluestone, into which he cut geometric forms. In each work the fine lines of the cuts counterpoint the rough contours of the given shapes.

    Obviously Ruckriem the stonecutter is important to Ruckriem the sculptor. In effect, the pristine stone that is worked in the quarry into slabs and blocks is worked further by Ruckriem, but not toward a product that is to become an element in a conventional piece of architecture or sculpture.

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  • Jennifer Bartlett

    The Clocktower

    Jennifer Bartlett is known for her painted sequences that are made up of hundreds of square plates. The squares compose a few larger squares, or frames, which in turn compose the sequence as a whole. Each frame is seen simultaneously as distinct and as connected to the whole; distinct inasmuch as one image is rendered there in one style or technique and connected inasmuch as the plates are regular and the one image is repeated. This, at least, is the format of a 1976 work called Rhapsody.

    If the title is any clue, Bartlett thinks of her composition in terms of music; and it is true that each

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  • Kit Fitzgerald And Jon Sanborn

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    “Resound,” a video installation by Kit Fitzgerald and Jon Sanborn, consists of 20 elements scored for eight color channels in stereo sound. Each element is made up of the sound and the image of an ordinary action or accident (e.g. a handclap, a dropped tool). None of the videotapes was constructed as a whole; and the elements, which are very brief, move randomly and rapidly from monitor to monitor. One may be repeated many times, or leap elsewhere after one or two runs. Relations that do occur seem to be coincidental.

    Here one wonders about the order of unorder. What is “pure” randomness? Does

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  • Aldo Rossi

    Max Protetch Gallery And Institute For Architecture And Urban Studies

    “Only two things belong to architecture, the tomb and the monument,” wrote Adolf Loos, “All the rest is building.” The architectural discourse of Aldo Rossi, leader of the Italian neorealist Tendenza group, could be an elaborate meditation on Loos’ statement. Detractors emphasize Rossi’s indifference to function and argue that his housing projects resemble barracks, his elementary school in Fagnano Olona looks like a prison and that his celebrated Modena Cemetery design, with its dominating cone shaped like a chimney stack, is a reminder of concentration camps. Rossi has parried these attacks

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  • Irma Blank

    O.K. Harris Gallery

    Astonishment—Diaghilev’s criterion for esthetic success—is a conveniently slippery item to enlist in the service of critical judgment. One would require increasing quantities of astonishment in order to continue being astonished; it’s an addicting practice for which the only known cure is a methadone maintenance program of so-called “interesting” art. As summer’s vacation makes fall’s art scene seem, by contrast, congested, last year’s business seems, by contrast, this year’s pleasure. Maybe the X quantity that tilts these contrasts toward the active and enjoyable is astonishment, but who can

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  • Louise Bourgeois

    Xavier Fourcade Gallery

    Louise Bourgeois’ mini-retrospective, “Sculpture 1941–1953 (plus one new piece)” is astonishing not in the ironic way of Irma Blank but in its aggression and accomplishment. They are the signal sculptures in the age of painting. The curatorial saw about sculpture—that they’re what you run into as you back away from the paintings on the wall—is only the tip of the iceberg of contempt with which sculptures are usually treated. Hard to move, difficult to insure, harder still to install, sculpture retrospectives are few and far between, while painting retrospectives occur at the drop of a hat.

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  • Brad Davis

    Holly Solomon Gallery and Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Brad Davis’ work is astonishing in its juxtapositions: acrylic-on-canvas paintings of stylized fauna and invented flora are bordered with that most garish of fabric: patterned polyester double-knit. Davis’ brilliantly colored paintings are the fourway collision of Fauve hue, Eastern religious symbolism, acrylic paint and acrylic textiles. More than any of the painters in the so-called Decorative movement, Davis pushes the boundaries of taste. Working against a natural facility as connoisseur/copyist of Orientalia, these are creations of bizarre animals frolicking, suffering through improbable

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  • Louise Fishman

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Can there be two painters more diametrically opposed than Brad Davis and Louise Fishman? Hardly. Fishman is a traditional oil-on-canvas nonrepresentational painter for whom the newfangled notions of acrylic paint and decorativeness are anathema. What’s astonishing about her work is that it could have been made any time in the last 25 years and is consequently the same kind of fashion constant as the wing-tip shoe.

    Given the enormous chasm between Davis and Fishman, I don’t find it at all incongruous to find myself responding warmly to both. Fishman is the more painterly of the two, but both have

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  • Robert Rauschenberg

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Robert Rauschenberg, that naughty truant from the New York School, in his exhibition of silks collaged on to rag paper (with photo images superimposed by solvent transfer), reminds me of the uroboros worm, who lives by devouring its own tail, constantly feeding on itself. I don’t expect that every show by an artist be a hit (.300 is a pretty good average in baseball, and it would be a fabulous average in artball) but this miss is so prominent as to be astonishing—in quite the negative sense of the word.

    These are a regurgitation of the Combines and photomontages of earlier Rauschenberg, but he

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  • Hap Tivey

    Blum Heiman Gallery

    In front of an Impressionist painting the eye differentiates between the individual brushstrokes and the composite picture. At a given distance the painting coalesces. So with Hap Tivey’s beautiful shadow boxes. A smokily translucent plastic mat (actually called “pola-coat,” used in rear screen projection) is stretched over a frame about three inches in front of the canvas. From a few feet away the eye, presented with the two surfaces, has trouble focusing. This gives the work an ethereal quality: the mat is like a slightly luminous mist clinging to the painting. It is also, in Tivey’s words,

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  • Toni Dove

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    The first painting one comes to in Toni Dove’s recent exhibition is of two fish (trout, I think), placed one directly above the other in the center of a field of pastel blue. The top fish is realistically, even clinically, rendered; the bottom fish, identical in outline, is done in silver leaf. I use the word “field” to describe the background because it is not watery but a dry, brushy blue. The painting is called Equals. The top fish (not a fish, we are given to think, but Fish) is not superior to the mere silhouette. The title gave me pause, for the presentation of two such similar images

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  • Daniel Babior

    Bertha Urdang Gallery

    Daniel Babior’s color photographs at first appear to be superimpositions, tricks performed in the darkroom to blend urban interiors and urban exteriors. Still, there was something eerily familiar about them; I realized there were no tricks involved. The photographs are of windows on urban streets and of what these windows simultaneously reflect and reveal: the daily fare of any ambulatory city dweller. Glass is a true city medium, cold and hard; but these pictures avoid being either. They have no part of photography’s urban etiquette of chilling or awesome surfaces, of grotesque juxtapositions,

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  • Larry Poons

    Andre Emmerich Gallery

    Larry Poons’ status as the last certified modernist painter interests me, independently of any particular painting. In 1972 Michael Fried considered it a matter of “conviction” that Poons’ thick, dense, poured paintings were the authentic successors to the school of Olitski. Poons’ work is crude, not lyrical; gloppy rather than slick; clotted and clogged rather than sensual and efficient. Looking back over the ’70s, Poons acts as a barometer of change in the look of a lot of abstract painting—a look which Ralph Humphrey, Ron Gorchov, and even artists like Rodney Ripps share, even though they

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  • Ann McCoy

    Brooke Alexander Gallery

    I enjoy Ann McCoy’s art particularly on the level of performance. She’s a wonderful technician, spends loads of hours drawing up a storm, and isn’t afraid to equate time spent with artistic value. She celebrates patience, dedication, perseverance, regular old obsession-with-the-processes-of-work, and hourly rather than salaried work. Elevating doing over thinking and execution over conception isn’t going to win any art medals, but you could do a lot worse.

    The underwater imagery is familiar. This time it’s darkened into a night aquarium (shades of Lady From Shanghai), with subjects spaced out at

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